British MPs from the governing Conservative and Liberal Democratic parties are threatening “rebellion” against new electoral district boundaries, The Independent reports.
Plans for redistricting are being published, and several senior MPs could see their districts combined with those of other MPs, or substantially changed. The proposal is part of the plan to cut the size of the House of Commons from 650 to 600.
Labour, which accuses the Coalition of gerrymandering, will oppose the changes. Both the Tories and Liberal Democrats accept they face rebellion from disgruntled MPs – in the form both of Commons votes and parliamentary wrecking tactics.
The new districts, and their likely impact, only underscore what a bad deal the LibDems brokered on political reform, one of their signature issues. They got their referendum on the Alternative Vote, and in exchange, the Conservatives demanded and won this review of districts and assembly size. Of course, the referendum was defeated badly, but the new districts are likely to go ahead anyway. Failing to agree on some version of this plan would put the LibDems in breach of the coalition agreement. Looks a lot like a sucker’s payoff for Clegg and the LibDems.
A noteworthy change in the district-drawing procedures:
Because of the rigid new formula for calculating constituency size, the Commission will for the first time have to cross county and council boundaries.
Unlike in the USA, districts are drawn by an independent Boundary Commission, not by politicians. But the criteria to be used, as well as for determining the total number of seats, are determined in legislation.
The changes could substantially alter the degree of “localism” in UK representation, as well as the balance among the main parties.
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The run of bad election results for the party of German federal leader, Angela Merkel, continues. Her Christian Democrats (CDU) lost over five percentage points in the party vote, relative to the 2006 election, in state parliamentary elections in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The Free Democrats (FDP), the CDU’s partner in the federal coalition, suffered an even more dramatic fall. With only 2.7%, down from 9.6%, they will have no seats now in the state’s parliament.
The big winners were the Social Democrats (SPD), with 35.7% (up from 30.2%) and the Greens, with 8.4% (3.4). The Left Party gained slightly (18.4, from 16.8). The neo-nazi NPD dropped a bit (6.0, from 7.3) but remains in the parliament.
The combined seat total of the SPD (28) and Greens (6) remains short of a majority in the 71-seat assembly. Thus a coalition of the SPD and Greens would be a minority government, and would need a working arrangement with the Left (or the CDU). The current government is a grand coalition of the SPD and CDU; Spiegel states that this arrangement is likely to continue. Maybe, but after the last election, those two parties were almost tied in seats (23 SPD, 22 CDU). With such a big swing against the CDU and to the SPD, one wonders whether the rank-and-file of either party will want to remain in a grand coalition.
(A sidebar to the last-linked item says that there is no 5% threshold at the local level, and it appears that the NPD will be represented now in “virtually all” the state’s district councils.)